I chose the background image for this poster to be a picture of helen of troy from greek mythology as she is the reason the war is being fought and also cressida is a parallel for helen in the play. the quote is also a paraphrase from greek mythology as feel that it brings focus to the ridiculousness of the reasons behind the events of the play.
I worked very hard kissing pieces of paper to make these visual representations of Twelfth Night and Troilus and Cressida.
Basically my thought process is this: both of these plays deal with gender in one way or another. What’s more heavily gendered than lipstick? And how can I alter the appearance of a simple smooch to address some more themes in these plays?
So here they are:
Twelfth Night on left, Troilus and Cressida on right (in case the quotes weren’t obvious.)
Kisses are more popularly recognized as small acts of romance which is present in both of these plays, but as I said earlier, my goal here was to use one obvious symbol in different ways.
In the Twelfth Night piece, the lipstick represents makeup, costumes and disguise. One half of the mark is intact, representing Viola and her complete femininity, and the other half is smudged, representing Cesario and his apparent lackthereof.
In the Troilus and Cressida piece, the lipstick is lust and the sword is war. In our society, some women are seen as ‘false’ for wearing makeup, and this ties in as well. Not only does Cressida become false because of what she says to Troilus (with her lips, get it?) but for acting on the lust between herself and Diomedes. I drew the sword in because war is literally half of the plot, and I think it works to create a sinister contrast between something sexy and comfortable and something undesirable and dangerous.
I wrote this sonnet for my best friend as we were visiting our boyfriends on an army base in (basically) the middle of nowhere. We were stranded for an extra day as weather made it dangerous to drive; she was sad and didn’t want to leave. I, on the other hand, was about to go insane because I had no WiFi or cell reception. So naturally, I ended up doing Shakespeare homework.
This sonnet is inspired by the theme of war explored in Troilus and Cressida. I tried to put myself in the position of the wives and mothers who had to send their husbands and sons to battle. All they could do was wait for the day when the men would come home. Although I haven’t experienced this first hand, I cannot imagine the pain and worry that goes through the minds of those with loved ones currently in battle overseas.
I also apologize for my sorry attempt at writing in iambic pentameter. I tried. 🙂
My love, duty-bound to serve your country;
Rugged and fearless, yet gentle and sweet.
My brave knight in green, marching forward humbly;
It is danger and war you willingly greet.
Not wound nor death may break your composure.
An honorable man you are, a hero of peace;
You are my hero, my knight, my soldier.
Yet I want nothing more than the war to cease.
I patiently wait for the day you come home
As I spend night after night in bed all alone.
I dream of the barren and bloody fields you roam;
When news of battle arrives, I fear the unknown.
I long to have you in my arms again;
This love for my soldier, words cannot explain.
The image of Troilus on the left is symbolic of the archetypical soldier that he is expected to be. The armour symbolizes strength, order, conformity, and illusion. The image of Troilus on the right, dressed in darker clothing to symbolize his woe, depicts the way he really feels while he is forced to wage war instead of profess his love to Cressida. His lack of armour represents the vulnerability that is a natural product of such intense emotions.
I chose to draw Cressida in a cloud to represent the way that she falls short of Troilus’ daydreams in real life. She is only so fair and pure to him since love is clouding his vision.
The rose is symbolic of the (failed) love between Troilus and Cressida, and the sword is symbolic of the Trojan War in which the story takes place. I chose red and black as accent colours: red for the rage, the blood, and the passionate love, and black for the death and suffering that occurs.
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I am going to discuss Troilus and Cressida
First I would like to discuss some of the parts of Troilus and Cressida that I find confusing and why. It might be due to the fact that I do not understand the background story of the Trojan and Greek war that is the setting of this play, but some parts I just do not understand.
One aspect that I find really confusing is the fact that it did not take much persuading to make Troilus allow the love-of-his-life Cressida to leave to the enemies’ encampment. If he loved her so much, why would he just let her leave into the hands of his enemies? Just so they could have a war official back who did not help them win the war in the end anyway (spoiler alert). Even if Antenor did help them defeat the Greek army, if I have learned anything from Shakespeare is that you are supposed to do anything to get the girl. Even if that may cause your death (i.e. Tarquin), or cause you to suffer in prison (i.e. Malvolio). Get with the program, Troilus.
Along with that, Troilus was frantic that Cressida would not be faithful, despite her protests. Was that based on her previous behaviour that was explained by Shakespeare? Was their some background information that explained that Cressida was a flirtatious and fickle woman? Or was this just misogynistic behaviour, where the male was assuming that the woman was not going to be faithful for the sole fact that she is a female. Whatever it was, it was definite foreshadowing since that’s exactly what Cressida ended up doing.
Cressida who seemingly left the Trojans quite distressed moved on very fast. Was it because she thought that her life in Troy was completely over? Or was her heart really as fickle as Troilus feared? I wonder how different directors would adapt the scene where Cressida is being kissed by the Grecian officials when she gets there – would she be in tears? Since later on she does end up with one of them (Diomedes), so was she really all that devastated to be torn away from her home and lover?
The thing that bothered me the most, besides the Cressida and Troilus love disaster, was that the Greeks and the Trojans were downright friendly when they would go to each others’ camps. Like, hullo, are we the only ones that remember that you are at war with these people?! They have killed your comrades and now you are behaving all chummy with them. Other than a few of them who were trying to kill each other on the sidelines, specifically Ajax and Hector, the rest of them were not as hostile as I expected them to me.
These were just some of the questions/problems I had whilst reading Troilus and Cressida.
MODERNIZATION: Troy, which still stands on its foundation, would have been destroyed and Hector’s sword would have lost its master (Hector would have died), if it wasn’t for the following reason: The rights of the authorities have been neglected. And there are many empty Greek tents on the field and as many insincere factions. When the general (in this case Agamemnon) does not act as the head of the hive, what reward (honey) can be expected from the hive, when foragers can take it from the hive whenever they want? The degree (rank) is not shown through the mask that we wear in battle, as the most unworthy is perceived as an equal to the worthiest.
The Heaven and the planet (Earth), which is the centre of the universe (geocentric model of the universe), also follows the degree, order, rank, course, proportion, season, form, and custom all in the right order. And therefore the glorious Sun is made the heavenly king due to its noble eminence and is rotating around the Earth amongst the other planets. The Sun’s healing rays (described as gaze from the eyes of the Sun) corrects the displacement of the planets that does not stay in their positions and hurries as if following the orders of a king without pause to encourage the goodness and discourage the bad.
However, when the planets that are causing disorder become aligned with each other, their mischief becomes too much and causes disasters such as plagues, ill omen, mutiny, raging of seas, earthquakes, commotion in the winds, fears, changes, horrors, cracks and fissures, and complete tearing and uprooting of the unity (represented through marriage in the text) of calm states (as in status of being calm, not countries) from their positions.
When degree (rank), which is a ladder to every higher beings, becomes unstable, the entirety of the system becomes disordered. How could communities, university degrees, societies in cities, peaceful commercial exchanges between countries, the primogeniture and the rights of birth, and the right of age and monarchy remain authentic if it isn’t for degree? Just taking away degree will untune the string of the instrument and listen to the discord that comes from it. Everything will result in conflict. The water would rise and flood over the shores and make this solid planet (globe. Could possibly be the Globe) wet; the strong will rule over the weak and the violent sons will murder their father. Force will be the law (right), both right and wrong, between which justice lies and if those exerting the force on others lose their name, justice will also lose its name. Then everything will be able power. Power will become the will of the people and their will will become greed and the greed, like a predator (wolf), with will and power doubling it, will, without doubt, prey on others and eventually itself.
Great Agamemnon, this chaos of preying and self-preying results from the loss (personified in text as suffocating and chocking) of degree. And this neglecting of degree makes us, who want to climb up, fall back. The general (or whoever is on the top of the hierarchy) falling back due to this makes the subordinates follow him for the sake of following their superior. This whole process makes us fall behind rather than advance forward. And it is because of this that Troy is still standing, not because it is strong. To summarize, Troy is standing now due to our weaknesses, not its strength.
CLOSE READING: the bee and the honey metaphor. Honey, like in “The Rape of Lucrece,” is used as a word describing an award that foragers come after. Degree is mentioned repeatedly in this passage and the entire passage emphasizes on the importance of order. The Elizabethan people believed that there were hierarchies in this world and the falling of one of the apex would result in the disorder not only in that particular hierarchy, but in all others as well (as seen in Macbeth when Macbeth goes to kill Duncan. The owls cry and there is chaos in the state of the universe around him). This reference to the hierarchy systems of the universe is mentioned in great detail in this passage as well. The part about the mask is saying that by being masked, the hierarchy is ignored and that, in turn, causes the calamities in the universe observed. The “Sol” is referring to the Sun. The way the sun is described (i.e. med’cinable eye) shows that the Sun in this passage refers to the god of medicine, music, prophecy, truth, and the Sun, Apollo. The Sol is given the quality of healing because of this mythological deity. The next part talks about the disorder that results when the hierarchy is indeed over-turned. The passage, and many other passages in this text later on, talks particularly about plagues (like in lines 96 and 103). Marriage, as seen in line 100, is seen as a unifying force as well as a stable and orderly force. The degree is also described as the ladder, following form its archaic meaning of the rungs of a ladder. This metaphor is used to describe the climbing of the ladder as the different ranks and order and climbing towards the top of the hierarchy. The theme of Apollo, in this case as the god of music, is continued on by describing disorder as an untuned instrument that give off discord. Then, like in many of his other texts, Shakespeare uses a water related metaphor to compare flood and disorder. The strong ground loses its stability due to the water and creates unstable mud-like earth. Then, wolf is used to describe the greed that results from the power. The ladder metaphor is also continued in lines 126 – 131 by the use of words like “climb” and “step.” The plague metaphor also recurs in lines 132 – 135, with the use of words such as “sick,” “fever” and “pale.” The last sentence that Ulysses speaks summarized his long speech into a single line; “Troy in our weakness lives, not in her strength.”